ADOM (Association pour la défense de l'oeuvre de Joan Miró) has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Joan Miró's exploration of graphic arts came about through his relationships and friendships with the circle of poets and writers he met through André Masson, who became his neighbour at the Rue Blomet studio, in Paris, from 1925. 'I was far more interested in the poets Masson introduced me to than in the painters I met in Paris. I was impressed by the ideas they expressed, and particularly by the poetry they discussed. I read like mad all night long, especially poetry, in the tradition of [Alfred] Jarry's Supermale...' (Exh. cat., 109 llibres amb Joan Miró, Barcelona, 1990, p. 223). Two years later, in August 1927, the poet Paul Éluard sent Miró several poems by André Breton’s close friend, Lise Hirtz, asking Miró to illustrate them. This was not the first time he had been asked for a work of art to illustrate a book. Earlier that year, the poet Josep Vicenç Foix had asked Miró to execute a drawing for the cover of his book Gertrudis.
In 1956, aged 63, Miró bought a house and studio in Cala Major, Mallorca, where he would remain until his death in 1983. During the first few years back where he had spent his childhood summers, he did not have much contact with the cultural circles there; his contribution to the magazine Papeles de Son Armadans, in 1957, had a limited impact among a small intellectual élite. But when the Majorca Daily Bulletin suggested publishing a special issue on Miró, ten years later, he was eager to actively cooperate in the project. The resulting publication included several renowned poets such as Robert Graves, Guillem Colom, Camilo José Cela, and Miquel Forteza, each one of whom wrote a poem dedicated to the artist, which he then illustrated with woodcuts. The issue appeared on the 31 December 1967, and was a major success. The winds of change were reaching Mallorca. Shortly after, Miró asserted: 'This special issue of the Majorca Daily Bulletin should be considered a starting point. We have to do things. We’ve got to keep on working, fighting for the culture of these islands. I was thinking that maybe we could have an edition with the poems included in the newspaper. […] I could do a drawing or an image for each poem. I believe it’s an idea worth considering […]’ (P.A. Serra & J.C. Cela, Miró y Mallorca, Barcelona, 1984, p. 98).That was the starting point for the book El vol de l’alosa. Els poetes mallorquins a Joan Miró, a tribute to Miro from the poets of Mallorca, which was published in 1973, with a cover designed by Miró, and an illustration by the artist for each poem, just as he had said he would.
The present work is a study for the cover of the book. In this gouache, a broad black graphism, seemingly produced at one sweep of the brush, represents the lark – alosa, in Spanish - very allusively, against a bright blue and red background. The black spots set against the stark, primary colours, bear a close connection with the celebrated triptych of 1961, Bleu I, II, III, (Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris): they are a powerful expression of the artist’s obsession with dreamscapes and vacant, infinite space. In 1958, during which he was working on the triptych Miró said: 'The spectacle of the sky overwhelms me. I’m overwhelmed when I see, in an immense sky, the crescent of the moon, or the sun. There, in my pictures, tiny forms in huge, empty spaces. Empty spaces, empty horizons, empty plains—everything which is bare has always greatly impressed me' (A. Dore, Twentieth Century Artists on Art, New York, 1958).